“ye” Can be Moving, Can be Stunning, but also Can Lack Focus

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“ye” is the eighth solo album from legendary artist and producer, Mr. Kanye West. This is Kanye’s first release since 2016’s “The Life of Pablo,” and features artists like Ty Dolla Sign, Kid Cudi, PARTYNEXTDOOR and John Legend. This is a seven song, 23-minute album, just a couple minutes longer than the Kanye-produced “DAYTONA” by Pusha T that was released last week.

Kanye West is, without a doubt, one of the greatest artists of all-time, and he has gotten that title by being one of the most consistent, so yeah, I was obviously excited for this project. Kanye’s recent controversies is nothing really new, but calling slavery a choice didn’t really get me on his good side before the album drop. Still I came into this project hoping to be wowed, as Kanye has managed to do that nearly every time he releases something new.

The Good

Just like Pusha, this is a concise and tight record from Kanye that feels pretty much devoid of filler. This is strictly meat, and, while the tracks vary wildly in style and concept, the tying idea of Kanye’s bipolar tendencies was excellently utilized during the short span of these seven songs.

Before getting into them specifically, the features that Kanye gets out of everyone involved here are absolutely exceptional. Kanye always manages to get the best out of his features with each project, and “ye” is by no means an exception, as no matter who showed up, they stole the show for their brief stint.

It’s Kanye, so you know the production is pretty tight. While I’m sad to say I think he did a tad better with his work on “DAYTONA,” there are still some infectious, powerful beats to be had here, especially in “Ghost Town”.

Speaking of “Ghost Town,it is absolutely one of the highlight moments on “ye”. The beat is stunning, Kanye’s verse, while small, is impactful and beautifully pitched, and the features from both Cudi and 070 Shake are haunting. Cudi kills the chorus, and Shake gets me screaming the outro like nothing else here, and the blend of everything just works wonders for making this track a standout.

“Yikes” is the other song that really stood out for me, but for completely different reasons. For all the beauty and subtlety of “Ghost Town” comes the frantic intensity and insanity that is this song. The production is equally incredible, but Kanye gets deep about his opioid addiction and depressive thoughts, more than he has in any album recently. This type of openness was a breath of fresh air for Kanye, and a move that I absolutely adored.

This move started with the intro track, “I Thought About Killing You, a risky song that paid off in a massive way. For some, the spoken word might not grab them, but for me, the way Kanye shifts his vocals and makes the point poignant and in your face is absolutely brilliant. The back half of this track is epic in scale and exquisitely produced, and this is another brutally deep moment for Kanye that we don’t always get.

“ye” has moments of clarity and inner struggle that make this project a special moment for Kanye, especially through all the controversy the man has faced. These two opening tracks bring the fire, but they bring it with themes of suicide, bipolar thoughts and addiction, and these are the themes that will stick with me when thinking back at this project.

The closer, “Violent Crimes” has a great chorus feature from Dej Loaf, and I love what Kanye has to say about the oversexualization of youth and the fears he has about his daughter. It’s another introspective moment I appreciated, and I could feel the emotion and sentiment through the flow he delivered.

The Bad

These inner moments we get from Kanye West are terrific, and clearly stand out as the best moments that “ye” has to offer, it’s just a shame that, even at just seven songs, not every song here manages to do that. “All Mine,” “Wouldn’t Leave” and “No Mistakes” are fine songs, but do not hit on the same themes as the other four superior songs, and they just feel lesser in comparison when looking at lyrics and the impact Kanye has on the song.

“Wouldn’t Leave” in specific has one of the strongest choruses on the album from PARTYNEXTDOOR, but the song itself just feels lacking in any sort of impact to make it memorable. “All Mine” is similar just because it feels overly short, and, much like with Pusha T, for an album to be this short, there’s no excuse to not strictly give hits on every single track here.

Because Kanye does such a great job getting his features to make such an impact, he can often feel like a side piece, even on his own album. Those middle three tracks I just mentioned all feel this way, as the gorgeous choruses are what stick, and “Ghost Town,” for as exceptional song as it is, feels that way mostly because of Cudi and Shake, as well as Kanye’s production. Kanye delivers some great verses here, but not enough, once again, to merit this album only being seven songs.

Beating a dead horse, I know, but “ye” needed to be longer. There’s a lot of greatness here, and most of these songs are ones that I plan to listen to for a long time. But, the bipolar concept does not feel fully realized, and there is just not enough of Kanye here to make me fully satisfied.

Conclusion

“ye” has Kanye West at some of the most personal he has ever been, and when those moments happen, this album feels nothing short of exceptional. The beginning and ending two songs make this happen, but the middle three feel lacking in comparison, and, at only seven songs, that hurts the overall impact. I love some ideas, I love a lot of the production, and Kanye certainly made some terrific things happen here, but “ye” still feels like a piece instead of a whole. Is this the worst solo album Kanye West has ever made? Probably, but when you’ve only made great albums, that’s not that much of an insult. “ye” is a pretty great album, but it just falls short of expectations.

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Listen to “ye” on Apple Music here and Spotify here

What did you think of “ye”? Comment below with your thoughts.


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